You know what’s frustrating, seeing your work being circulated all over the internet without your permission or consent. With so many possibilities on social media platforms in today’s age, it’s next to impossible to claim your rights to the photo or have it taken down.

Unfortunately, piracy is becoming a concerning issue, especially for businesses and individuals who put up a picture online for marketing purposes. Determined people who want to use your photos without credits will find their way around it to unethically circulate them. 

Luckily, we have gathered a list of theft-proof measures that might come in handy to help you protect your digital photos. Let’s begin. 

How To Stop Digital Piracy 

Keep in mind that these are not definite solutions. It’s important to recognize that once you make photos available on the internet, you won’t be able to protect them fully. You can upload a picture or a video on your business page with your rights reserved, but there are sneaky digital pirates who will go above and beyond to steal it. Simply put, once it’s on the internet it’s treated as public property. 

Now, just a decade ago, the risks were not so severe, but the digital world has progressed immensely. The consequences too can either be good or bad, depending on which end you’re at.

You understand that completely halting digital piracy is not achievable. But, the good news is that you can most definitely be proactive to alleviate the consequences. For instance, if you are a videographer, you can look for the best VPN for videographers as a VPN can be one of the best ways to stop digital piracy. But that is not the only way. 

Here is a list of all the most effective ways you can stop digital piracy. 

1. Watermark

This one is a traditional method, and perhaps the oldest way to prevent digital piracy. And you have most likely seen an obvious watermark on many pictures online.

It is commonly used for business logos, company names, websites, or other images that need to be protected to reserve their rights properly. There are apps available online to add watermarks to your digital content; however, watermarking your images has some downsides to it. The major drawback is the consumer behavior that’s associated with watermarked images. It was considered highly unethical to use a watermarked image online even a few years ago, but it’s become a usual practice nowadays to come across watermarked images being used. This indicates that watermarking the image in the digital world does not confirm that it will not be a victim of piracy. 

2. Digital Signature

In contrast to watermarks, digital signatures don’t impact the quality of digital images or videos. So, this generally means that you are not going to encounter visible interference with your image resolution. You can display your image, keeping it intact for your potential buyers. When they try to save or download it directly, the digital signature will appear on the image.

This is to stop the unauthorized circulation of images. Digital signatures have become quite effective in preventing piracy in the digital world, especially for professional photographers who choose to demonstrate their work online.

3. Hidden Foreground Layer

It is important to protect your digital images, but if your objective is to sell the images online, you must make them appealing to your buyers. You want them to be able to view it without any interference, otherwise, you may end up losing sales. 

Hence, it’s ideal to use a transparent foreground layer for your images. When they click on it to save or download, the image will be displayed as a blank picture. This solution may discourage digital pirates, but taking a screenshot still gives them access to the photo without having to pay for it. 

4. Disable Download Options

Limiting access to downloads is also another way to drive away digital thieves. But if you really think about it, how do you know that the buyer is not sharing your images or the download link without your knowledge?

You can limit access and disable download options. It has been known to be one of the most effective solutions to minimize digital piracy. 

This basically means that the download link will disappear or expire after 3 downloads, within a fixed period of time. It will facilitate you to control and prevent piracy to some extent, as sharing download URLs becomes infeasible.

5. Copyright

You have the option to copyright images by registering them with the copyright office. They will ensure that you reserve your right to the image online. This particular solution stands out among the other options for various reasons. Firstly, you have the freedom to claim damages, and the copyright office will allow you access to their database to verify your ownership rights and take steps accordingly. This means that you can take legal action against your image being circulated on the internet. 

However, there are fees and certain procedures involved in getting your digital work registered for ownership rights, and it will vary depending on where you live. You may be disappointed that not all offices have the capacity to file a lawsuit as these legal actions cost a lot of money. 

6. Remove Incentives

Removing incentives for potential buyers is an effective way to tackle piracy on the internet. Take how Netflix operates as an example. In the US, Netflix subscription fees start at $8.99 and increase up to $17.99 for multiple screen users and high resolution. This strategy has changed the mindsets of online viewers massively, and in fact, it is one of the most practical examples of preventing revenue loss from piracy

In other countries, they also offer a much lower fee for mobile users only to stream on the go. This has led to fierce competition in the price of such interfaces. It clearly indicates that consumer experience plays a huge role in ensuring that consumers are not resorting to pirated content or media. Offering a reasonable price with a top-notch experience is working far better than any other strategy to stop piracy in the digital world. 

It’s not possible to make a piracy-free world, but little measures can discourage many people from piracy. 

7. Monitor the Web for Digital Theft

You can choose to monitor the web for copies of your digital product. If it’s on the internet, you may come across it. This is not really a solution to privacy, but this will enable you to be proactive and much more aware. You can also track the distribution and circulation of your products. 

You can easily create a Google Alert for your individual digital products. You’ll be notified when someone uses or mentions your product somewhere on the web.

It’s also important to understand that pirates are likely to change the name of your product, which becomes an obstacle in tracking stolen products. You could try adding variations in names, such as product names, website names, etc. while you are searching for theft. 

Understanding Digital Protection

We have discussed possible solutions to mitigate piracy, but we feel that it’s important for you to understand the features of digital protection. As mentioned earlier, there’s no guarantee of protection for digital products. There are many businesses that have suffered immense losses due to online piracy, and there are many other companies that are working hard to find a solution to this ongoing problem. 

Microsoft is exploring new ways to diminish piracy completely, however, they haven’t been able to develop a successful way to do this yet. But this should not be a reason for you to not take any action to protect your work online. 

We believe that when people find it difficult to steal your digital content, fewer people will invest their time in it. Another smart way to divert digital thieves and transform them into potential buyers is to show them that buying is easier than stealing, as explained by the Netflix example. 


Maintaining 100% protection from piracy is hard; in fact, you’d have to constantly monitor for the unethical use of your digital property, which in itself is a very tedious job. Whichever platform you choose to display your products on, make sure you opt for a subscription-based interface where users only visit with the intention to buy. 

There are a few additional ways to minimize piracy online, such as disabling screenshots. Be sure to explore other ways that may suit your needs. With a bit of research, you can sell your photos online safely without stressing about piracy.